A remarkable photographic chronicle by legendary Life Magazine photojournalist Bill Eppridge of the Beatles’ historic 1964 visit to the United States will be featured in a Western Connecticut State University Art Gallery exhibition that will open Tuesday, Jan. 19, and continue through Saturday, March 13, at the university’s Visual and Performing Arts Center.
A collection of 55 black-and-white photographs taken by Eppridge during his coverage for Life of the British rock group’s visit to New York and Washington from Feb. 7 through 12, 1964, will be shown in the exhibition, “The Beatles: Six Days That Changed the World,” sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art. An opening reception will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, in the Art Gallery at the arts center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Reservations to attend the free public reception may be made on the VPAC events Web page at www.wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com.
Eppridge, who resided in New Milford in his later years, died in October 2013 in Danbury after an extraordinary career as a photojournalist spanning 60 years. He is widely recognized for capturing iconic images of contemporary history including the Beatles’ Feb. 9, 1964, appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and the poignant image on June 6, 1968, of a busboy kneeling beside the mortally wounded Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in a Los Angeles hotel kitchen moments after his assassination. “You are not just a photojournalist,” he said in recalling the Kennedy image. “You’re a historian.”
Yet the WCSU exhibition of selections from his 1964 Beatles tour photo shoot, which consumed more than 90 rolls of film and 3,000 photographs, would have been impossible without the mysterious recovery of these images seven years after they went missing and the painstaking work of Eppridge’s editor and wife, Adrienne Aurichio, to review and organize this vast photo archive into a comprehensive record of the Beatles’ tour as it unfolded.
Aurichio recalled in a 2014 essay for CBS News marking the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance that the 26-year-old Eppridge found himself in the right place on the morning of Feb. 7, 1964, to draw the assignment from Life Magazine photography director Dick Pollard to cover the Beatles’ arrival that day at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. He followed the Beatles as Life’s photo correspondent throughout the first six days of their U.S. tour, shooting spontaneous images documenting performances, rehearsals and private moments during the tour that established the group as an international rock ‘n’ roll sensation.
At the time, Life Magazine published just four of the images from Eppridge’s assignment, and the original film submitted to the Time-Life photo lab for processing could not be located when he attempted several months later to retrieve the images. By his account, at least seven years passed before the film turned up on his desk with no explanation of how it had been recovered.
Aurichio’s role in re-creating Eppridge’s Life photo chronicle of the 1964 Beatles tour began in 1993 when she came across one of his prints from the shoot while researching photographs for a magazine project. Intrigued at the prospect of discovering more photos from the Beatles visit, she soon learned the full story of Eppridge’s recovered film chronicle, which provided the images featured in the WCSU exhibition and in the book, “The Beatles: Six Days That Changed the World,” released in 2014 by Rizzoli Publishing. In his acknowledgments for the book, Eppridge noted that Aurichio played a critical part as co-editor in “piecing together my story. I relied on her vision and experience as an editor to research and unravel the photographs, and then pull them together in chronological order.”
Aurichio observed that Eppridge’s photographs of the Beatles’ 1964 visit reflect the fact that “he made pictures as they happened, never staging anything. The pictures are so personal. You know that there